I am not participating in Pride events this year. "Why not?" you ask. Am I not out and proud?
I am very proud of all parts of my sexual and gender identity. I am a proud, queer, bisexual transexual. I love my community, and I am proud of how far we have come over the years. I am not proud that what started as a civil rights march has become a contest of which corporation can attract more gay money than the other.
I have been to Pride "marches" across the country over the years. I attended and walked in large events in New York, Portland, and Boston, and smaller events in places like Northampton. Every year I say, "I'm not going again," and for the first time I really mean it. I am sitting this year out.
I am tired of getting Bacardi rainbow beads and American Airlines stress balls or other gadgets. I am tired of seeing cute, young, ripped and waxed gay boys strut their stuff for pay from big corporations while most lesbians and trans people march with humble community organization banners, sandwiched between the thumping money-making floats that drown their message out. I am not proud that our demonstration for civil rights has become a parade instead of a march for our lives.
People are still dying, by suicide, murder, and AIDS. Young people are still being harassed and disowned by their families, friends, and religious congregations. Our older population is facing a new discrimination, having to go back into the closet as they enter retirement communities and nursing homes, fearing for their safety. We still have one of the highest homeless and unemployment rates in the nation. It is not time to buy stuff. It is still time to fight.
Can, and should, we have fun and party? Of course we should. I love a good party just as much as the next person. However, can we party with a purpose? Instead of paying a cover to a corporation, how about paying a cover to support a local nonprofit organization helping homeless LGBTQ youth? Go-go boys, you are cute. How about moving those hot little asses in support of HIV/AIDS organizations instead of supporting Smirnoff Ice?
I know that these types of events happen, but I want to see this as the norm, as the driving force of Pride weekends across the country.
When Pride events change, let me know, and I will join you again. Until then, you can find me truly marching in the streets, or helping young people, or writing about one of the many trans people behind bars. I might be wearing a feather boa or rainbow beads while I do it, for I am proud of who I am.
I encourage you to do the same.